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Columbus Blue Jackets Hire Former Assistant Brad Larsen To Be New Head Coach

Brad Larsen, center, looks at the scoreboard during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators in Nashville, Tenn.
Mark Humphrey
/
AP
Brad Larsen, center, looks at the scoreboard during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators in Nashville, Tenn. The Blue Jackets promoted Larsen on Thursday, June 10, 2021, to fill the head coaching vacancy left after Columbus parted ways with John Tortorella after six seasons.

The Columbus Blue Jackets introduced their new head coach Brad Larsen on Friday.

The team promoted Larsen after previous head coach John Tortorella left the team last month. Larsen has been an assistant coach with the team since 2014. He was previously the head coach of the Blue Jackets' then-American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Falcons, and was a player in the NHL and AHL for 13 years.

Larsen said he won't be copying Tortorella's hard-nosed style, and he looks forward to creating relationships with players not just as athletes, but as people.

Tortorella took the Blue Jackets from a team that routinely finished at or near last place into a perennial playoff contender. The Jackets also saw its best players request trades or leave through free agency over the past three seasons.

"Just to say that I'm excited is a probably a huge understatement for this opportunity, to be at this level and do it with the young men I'm going to be involved with and the management staff, the ownership," Larsen said.

Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen said Larsen's passion, work ethic, attention to detail and communications skills were the biggest reasons they chose him over the other candidates.

"I personally have thought from basically the day I met Lars that he's going to be a great head coach in the NHL someday," Kekalainen said.

Blue Jackets President Of Operations John Davidson said other teams were interested in hiring Larsen for open positions, but were able to find a way for him to stay with the team as the new head coach.

"We wanted character, and we knew that wasn't even a question," Davidson said. "We've known Lars a long time for that."

The Blue Jackets ended the pandemic-abbreviated season with 18 wins, 26 losses, and 12 overtime losses. They also missed the playoffs for the first time in five seasons.

Columbus will have the fifth pick in this summer's NHL draft.

One of their best players, defenseman Seth Jones announced last month that we would explore free agency after his contract ends after next season. The team could trade him before the start of the season.